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Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Salary: $183,184The Courts of Common Pleas are the general trial courts of Pennsylvania. They are organized into 60 judicial districts. Most districts follow the geographic boundaries of counties, but seven of the districts are comprised of two counties. Each district has from one to 93 judges and has a president judge and a court administrator.Responsibilities:Appeals from the minor courtsAppeals not exclusively assigned to another courtMatters involving children and families

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  • Candidate picture

    Lisa Grayson
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Carrie Hyams
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Susan K. Pickford
    (I)

  • Candidate picture

    Matthew Peter Smith
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Matthew Peter Smith
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What is the most important quality in a judge?

Under what circumstances would you recuse or have you recused yourself from a case?

As a member of the judiciary, what can you do on and off the bench to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to justice?

Campaign Phone (717) 884-8411
campaign email address Grayson4Judge@gmail.com
It is difficult to assign just one quality as the most important, but in a word, I would say integrity. If a judge has integrity, all other characteristics fall in place. Integrity defined: 1. is a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: Incorruptibility; 2. an unimpaired condition: Soundness 3. the quality or state of being complete or undivided: Completeness Synonyms: character, decency, goodness, honesty, morality, probity, rectitude, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness, honor. Honor suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one’s profession, calling or position. Integrity implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge.
A judge should recuse herself from a case because of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality. There could be any number of situations where even if a judge believes she can be impartial, the appearance of impropriety may dictate otherwise. Generally, if a judge has some prior close or animus relationship with one of the parties or their counsel, or she has had prior dealings on the matter at hand, she should recuse herself. A judge should self-identify any potential issue to the parties at the earliest possible time so as not to prejudice any party.
The number one roadblock to accessing justice is the cost. As an attorney, I have provided pro bono (free) and reduced fee legal services. As a judge, I will encourage other attorneys to do the same. I have also been a financial sponsor, participant, and expert counsel to the Wills for Heroes program. (preparing estate planning documents for first responders and veterans).

While my office cannot provide legal advice, as the Register of Wills, I have simplified procedures within my control. Presiding over hearings, I do my best to give ample opportunity and guidance to pro se (representing themselves without an attorney) individuals so they may present their case for adjudication.

Education is another way to assist those coming to the courts. As a sitting member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Council on Elder Justice in the Courts, I have worked to provide guidance, access, education, and oversight to families and elders seeking the protections of the court.
campaign email address hyamsforjudge@gmail.com
The most important quality in a judge is experience. I have the broad-based and well-rounded experience that our next judge needs. From my work as a social worker helping the most vulnerable in our society, to prosecuting child predators and protecting our local businesses as a local attorney, I know what it takes to safeguard our community. My experience and my passion for protecting our children and youth make me uniquely qualified to serve our families as judge.
I will recuse myself anytime that I believe that I would have an inherent bias and any time that I believe that there is the appearance of bias. That is the ethical rule and I will follow it.
Our legal system needs to be swift, but fair. At the same time, a judge needs to be tough on crime but have the right mindset to be impartial and also consider protecting our community. Our justice system needs to be efficient. All parties and victims deserve a speedy trial and conviction process. Our legal system can always make improvements, but I will do everything in my power as judge to ensure our legal system is fair and swift so that everyone can have access to justice.
Campaign Phone (717) 777-1210
campaign email address pickfordforjudge@gmail.com
Independence! The influence of political ideologies and special interests corrupt the administration of justice. We are one of only 7 states that elects its trial court judges through partisan elections. The A.B.A. Canons of Judicial Conduct, Rule 4.1 specifically prohibit publicly identifying oneself as a candidate of a political organization and seeking, accepting, or using endorsements from a political organization. Pennsylvania Rules allow this practice. As a result we have candidates endorsed by political parties, police departments, influential law firms and gun lobbies. These endorsements infringe on the independence of the judiciary. An independent judiciary encourages integrity in its judges. I am the only Independent candidate for Judge. I have not sought nor will I accept any endorsements from political organizations or special interests. As a judge, I will be beholden only to the law, the facts before me and fairness to the individuals in front of me.
In Pennsylvania, the determination as to whether a judge has a conflict of interest, is oddly, made by the judge him/herself. I have had the misfortune of being in front of judges who were displaying obvious bias in a case. A lawyer challenging that judge’s bias has little chance of success and proceeds at his/her client’s peril for having suggested the judge was bias. As a judge, I would recuse myself if I previously represented an individual or had any experience with the individual, company or issue that would raise the appearance of impropriety were I to hear the case. If an attorney raises the issue of bias with me, I would give his/her concerns careful consideration and act with integrity.
Access to the courts and access to justice are two different things. I have practiced in 2 states and 11 counties and I can confidently say that Cumberland County is the most user friendly courthouse I have practiced in. The row offices are incredibly helpful. Information about the specialty courts is easily accessible. What is lacking in general in the court system is connection to the community and increasing the public knowledge about what the court does and how it can help. Reality fights entertainment when it comes to expectations of what a court, a judge, attorneys and the law do. We need to get into the schools, community organizations and publications to bring the court and community together. On the bench, every litigant will have my full attention, time to present their case and measured consideration of the issue that concerns him/her. People can have access to the courthouse and legal representation, but if they are not truly heard, they do not have true access to justice.
campaign email address info@mattsmithforjudge.com
A 2009 Article by Pennsylvania Bar Association President, C. Dale McClain, fairly described 10 traits one should look for in a Pennsylvania Judge. It is critical to note that no single trait or quality is carries greater weight, and thus it is very hard to describe ‘the most important quality’ as a severe deficiency in one area, such as temperament, can overshadow anything. Therefore, in my opinion, the most ‘important quality’ in a judge is a combination of: 1) Legal ability, 2) Trial or other similar experience that ensures knowledge of the law and courtroom procedures, 3) A record and reputation for excellent character and integrity, 4) Judicial temperament, 5) Financial responsibility, 6) Mental and physical capacity to fulfill the duties of judicial office, 7) Record of community involvement, 8) Administrative ability, 9) Devotion to improvement of the quality of justice, and 10) Demonstrated sound judgment in professional life.
Pennsylvania’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which was adopted by the state’s Supreme Court in 1974, requires that Pennsylvania judges avoid both impropriety and its appearance in all of their activities. Consistent with the Code, whenever a Pennsylvania judge has any doubt about his or her ability to impartially preside over a matter, or believes that their impartiality might reasonably be questioned by others, he or she ordinarily should recuse, as even the appearance of bias must be avoided. As a Judge, I would espouse these principles as laid out by the Code of Judicial Conduct; people must have faith in their judicial system.
In the criminal context, I believe offenders without access to private counsel are well served by the Cumberland County Office of the Public Defender. The office employs expert attorneys who know the court system well. Of course, as the county grows, so too must the Public Defender’s office. As the caseload increases, I would advocate for increased funding for both the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. In the civil context, Cumberland County residents in need are served by over-lapping programs. If persons qualify, Mid Penn Legal Services provides limited services on a no-cost basis. In addition, each county, to include Cumberland County, has a pro bono program in which local attorneys volunteer time. I would continue in the footsteps of our current bench by participating in Cumberland County Bar Association activities that promote bro bono participation and continue to advocate for Mid Penn Legal Services.
campaign email address info@mattsmithforjudge.com
A 2009 Article by Pennsylvania Bar Association President, C. Dale McClain, fairly described 10 traits one should look for in a Pennsylvania Judge. It is critical to note that no single trait or quality is carries greater weight, and thus it is very hard to describe ‘the most important quality’ as a severe deficiency in one area, such as temperament, can overshadow anything. Therefore, in my opinion, the most ‘important quality’ in a judge is a combination of: 1) Legal ability, 2) Trial or other similar experience that ensures knowledge of the law and courtroom procedures, 3) A record and reputation for excellent character and integrity, 4) Judicial temperament, 5) Financial responsibility, 6) Mental and physical capacity to fulfill the duties of judicial office, 7) Record of community involvement, 8) Administrative ability, 9) Devotion to improvement of the quality of justice, and 10) Demonstrated sound judgment in professional life.
Pennsylvania’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which was adopted by the state’s Supreme Court in 1974, requires that Pennsylvania judges avoid both impropriety and its appearance in all of their activities. Consistent with the Code, whenever a Pennsylvania judge has any doubt about his or her ability to impartially preside over a matter, or believes that their impartiality might reasonably be questioned by others, he or she ordinarily should recuse, as even the appearance of bias must be avoided. As a Judge, I would espouse these principles as laid out by the Code of Judicial Conduct; people must have faith in their judicial system.
In the criminal context, I believe offenders without access to private counsel are well served by the Cumberland County Office of the Public Defender. The office employs expert attorneys who know the court system well. Of course, as the county grows, so too must the Public Defender’s office. As the caseload increases, I would advocate for increased funding for both the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

In the civil context, Cumberland County residents in need are served by over-lapping programs. If persons qualify, Mid Penn Legal Services provides limited services on a no-cost basis. In addition, each county, to include Cumberland County, has a pro bono program in which local attorneys volunteer time. I would continue in the footsteps of our current bench by participating in Cumberland County Bar Association activities that promote bro bono participation and continue to advocate for Mid Penn Legal Services.